Voluntary Simplicity: How Do You Define Simple?

What is “voluntary simplicity”? My definition is quite short: the lifelong process of choosing to live a simple life. The next part would be to define “simple”. I personally believe we all have to define that for ourselves. My choices may not match anyone else’s lifestyle choices, and that’s ok. You have to look at your values and base your choices in life on what’s right for you. One thing that could be consistent for everyone is voluntary simplicity should be about living life with purpose, not just existing from day to day.

A “simple” life is not necessarily an easier life, but should be working toward a less stressful life. It’s a lifelong journey of consciously choosing the way in which you live including how you react to and interact with others, consume products, participate in relationships or end relationships, activities you participate in, and how you determine what brings you joy.

It’s so easy to just exist day to day. It’s also easy to long for material things and work so hard to achieve them. Once you’ve achieved the thing you’ve worked so hard for, then what? Typically, there’s another material thing you set to work toward. When does it end? When does it become enough?

Have you ever felt you couldn’t invite people over until you purchased new glasses, or cleaned the living room? I’ve known a few people who, when it was there turn to host the family Christmas party, felt the need to purchase new living room or dining room furniture. Why? Why isn’t what you have and who you are good enough?

I’ve thought a lot the past 3 years about making the most of my time while I’m here. Nothing is guaranteed and none of us knows how long we’ve got. What do I want to do? Who do I want to be? How do I want others to remember me? In all my thought processing, there hasn’t been a material item that jumped to the front of my mind other than the property and home I’d like to live in. The reason that’s important is because we know we want to be surrounded by more animals which means we need a larger piece of property. Animals and homesteading bring us joy.

I determined for myself what my “simple” looks like and outlined steps that were important to me. For example, I’ve ended unhealthy relationships with family members and friends who were bringing me more stress than happiness. I am paying more attention to things I purchase or want to purchase and ask myself if I need it and if not do I really love or cherish it? Although I am unable to work part-time at my job, I have encouraged my husband to do so at least for the winter months. He is able to enjoy his week at a different pace than when he was full-time and to focus on things that bring him happiness.

The process of voluntary simplicity is much easier once you’ve defined what your “simple” means. What types of things do you see as a “simple” life?


~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I think you've done a great job articulating what simplicity is--I feel very much the same way. We moved to the country to get away from the complications of living with neighbors who sometimes complicated our life. We've found living in the country has given us the 'freedom' to be who we are and living like we want too, and not by all the rules that sometimes come with living in the city.

Verde Farm said...

Great post and getting me to thinking. I think for me simplifying life as a first step relates to my work. I have stressed and worried way too much over the last 11 years and much of that brought on by me. I think having a different view of the job and relationships related to that job is an important way to simplify and I have been working on that. I do feel less stress and worry as a result. If I can work on this --it will be a great start to more simplifying :)

Unknown said...

I'm still trying to figure out but it definitely means less 'stuff' and more time at home. How to do that is perhaps the next step. I'm reading a book right now called Less is More..all about voluntary simplicity, it's an eye opener and is holding the door open for me, showing me a different life and I'm certainly ready for it!

Be well ~Andrea~

Unknown said...

Me again, I just wanted to say thank you for the comment you left earlier today. It's been a stressful time, these last few days. Please continue to pray, the sooner the guilty are found, the sooner we can feel begin to feel safe, if only a little, again.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thanks for the comments! Kim, I am right there with you. We moved in an effort to get out of town and away from the neighbors. Our next move will be to a property where the neighbors are even further away. I'm all for community, but I'm not fond of glares, staring and just plain rudeness.
Amy, I think reducing the stress at work will be a huge start in simplifying so your days mean more and don't go by in such a blur.
Andrea, I saw on your blog that you were reading that book. I'm going to have to get it myself since you are enjoying it. I loved Linda Breen Pierce's book and am always on the lookout for additional sources of inspiration.